One Kick by Chelsea Cain

I came to Chelsea Cain via the beautiful Tricia Helfer, after hearing a rumour she was set to play serial killer Gretchen Lowell, star of Cain’s Heartsick series. Somewhere along the way I got sidetracked into downloading Cain’s One Kick instead. Sadly, it turns out that someone-whose-face-I-like-might-one-day-play-a-character-from-one-of-this-author’s-other-books isn’t the best basis for picking a good read – who’d have thought?

One Kick has a lot of potential in its premise. Our main character is Kick Lannigan, who was kidnapped as a child and spent five years being used for pornography before her rescue. Now grown up and proficient in a range of survival skills, Kick sets out to rescue other abducted children. This sounded like the basis for a gripping read, but sadly just wasn’t my cup of tea.

We move from one explosive event to another at breakneck speed. One moment Kick is being attacked in her apartment (by her future love interest – really, you want me to buy into a potential romance when their meet-cute involves breaking and entering and physical assault?), the next we’re whizzing off to a crime scene on a private jet – and then an explosion! – and then a prison visit! – and then breaking open another crime scene with a sledgehammer! – and then, and then, and then. There’s little time to settle in and really get to know the characters beneath surface level. Kick’s characterisation is largely bad-ass with bravado, which is amusing in places (“She knew 571 ways to take someone to the ground with her left hand alone.“), but wears thin over the course of the novel.

Not to mention, parts of it just plain don’t make sense. (“Sometimes Kick had helped Mel make the bombs. Bleach. They had used it every time they moved. Leave no trace, Mel would say. It was the way of the Comanche.“) So she spent five years hidden away by a super secret, impossible to penetrate child trafficking ring, but these guys bomb every safehouse once they abandon it??? And that doesn’t draw even greater attention to them??? Okay.

One Kick is/was set to be the first installment of a series, but it seems that Cain has since moved to a different publisher, and plans are now on the back-burner. Somewhere along the way to discovering this, I got sucked down a rabbit hole of author drama, which was frankly more entertaining than the book itself (this, just for starters). Whatever the outcome, I doubt I’ll be back for another kicking.

[Read from 13 November-1 December 2016]

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